Ripper of a unit

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian

A multipurpose deep ripping and soil incorporation machine is stirring up more than just the Northern Wheatbelt's non-wetting soils.

The Bednar Terraland To, imported from the Czech Republic by Powerace's Grant Borgward, is starting to tweak the interest of farmers from right across WA's agricultural regions.

Finding a machine to overcome the twin constraints of subsoil compaction and soil acidity on WA's vast non-wetting soils has been a challenge for decades.

According to Mr Borgward, this unique chisel plough might just be the answer. "I have a lot of clients on the Eradu sandplain, where the major limiting factor is low potassium," he said.

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"I was looking for a machine to bring up more potassium from the subsoil, but what we found was that this machine also deep rips and incorporates phosphorus and clay particles as well, changing the entire structure of the soil."

An alternative to mould board ploughing, traditional deep ripping, spading, delving and large off set discs, the Bednar Terraland To rips down to 60cm and then incorporates varying clay rates into the sand according to changeable blade sizes, which are attached to tines.

"Also, because it is both deep ripping and incorporating, any lime put on for the last 10 to 15 years that hasn't been activated, is going to get mixed in to the soil," Mr Borgward said.

The Bednar Terraland To will be featured at the Department of Agriculture and Food's 102nd Merredin Research Facility Field day on September 23.

According DAFWA development officer Greg Shea, special coloured sand placed in layers in the soil will be used as a way to track the degree of soil incorporation.

"It will be interesting to see how the tandom spikey rollers at the rear of the machine smooth out soil ridges to improve water harvesting," he said.

The demonstration will complement the presentation of a canola trial that is investigating crop establishment following lime incorporation treatments.

Attendees will also visit a CSIRO trial examining how previous crop residues can influence the fertiliser requirements of the next crop and how much nitrogen to apply to wheat if grown after canola or wheat to ensure both optimal yields and grain protein.

Mr Shea said the day would also include presentations on oat trials.

"With the resurgence in oat plantings, many growers will be interested in a series of agronomic management trials, which address nitrogen application and time of sowing for milling or hay varieties," he said.

"Barley growers will be able to see how different varieties respond to specific management guidelines for nitrogen fertiliser, which is part of the research to identify how to get crop results that meet customers' needs for different varieties."

The free field day will run from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Morning and afternoon teas will be provided for free, while lunch will cost $5.

Please RSVP for catering purposes to greg.doncon@agric.wa.gov .au or call 9081 3111.

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